Happy 8th Birthday, Aaron

I write letters to my children on their birthdays. Here is last year’s letter to Aaron.

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Dear Aaron,

Eeee! You’re 8 years old!

Happy birthday to you, son. You are very excited to celebrate your birthday this year with an ice cream sundae party with friends and family.

Some memories from this year…

  • Our family went on a cruise in the Carribbean.
  • You and Dad did your annual camping trip together.
  • You dressed up as Steve from Minecraft for Halloween. The box on your head wasn’t very comfortable, so Grandpa carried it around while you were trick-or-treating.
  • Your aunts and uncles taught you how to fish at the beach.
  • I coached your soccer team, and you scored your first goal in our final game of the season.
  • You opened a bank account.
  • We moved to a new house in a new neighborhood. You changed schools, and made new friends immediately.
  • You got to watch Star Wars for the first time.
  • You got your own bedroom, and you love having your own space.
  • You started playing the ukulele. Now we have family ukulele lessons every two days.

You love playing games and working out math problems. Your current favorite books are Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Dog Man. You enjoy playing outdoors, swimming, and riding your Razor scooter through our neighborhood. You are flexible with changes, and are growing into a thoughtful, kind, and strong person.

I hope that this year is filled with joy for you. I love the gift of being your mother, and am grateful for who you are.

I love you always.

Mom

Happy 2nd Birthday, Aria

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I write letters to my children on their birthdays. Here is last year’s letter to Aria.

Happy birthday, Aria!

Can you really be two already? Apparently so. You add such a wonderful dose of light into the world, it’s hard for me to remember what life pre-you was like.

You have a beautiful spirit that is curious, funny, thoughtful, and sweet. When you meet someone new, your first instinct is to befriend and charm. You have a wonderful imagination, playing pretend and making up your own language. When you get excited, you squeal with delight.

We have learned to always keep an eye on you because you get into everything. Once you opened the fridge, and dumped a whole container of bread dough all over yourself. Last week you figured out how to climb out of your crib. You certainly keep us on our toes.

You love listening to the “Mo-a-a” (Moana) soundtrack, playing with water, using the remote control to talk on the phone with your grandparents, singing the alphabet song, eating edamame, drawing on things you’re not supposed to, telling us that you want to “guh-buh” (buckle) yourself into your car seat, asking to be picked “uh-poo” (up), and giving really great hugs and kisses.

I love seeing your identity take shape, and hope this year brings so much joy for you.To watch you grow and learn and live is one of the greatest gifts I’ve been given. You are deeply loved.

With all my heart,

Mommy

 

10 Things I Learned in February 2017

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It’s been a while since I wrote a “10 Things I Learned” post. Life has been full lately, so I’ve had less capacity to blog. But here we are!

This habit of writing down what I’m learning helps me pay attention to life, myself, and God’s presence. It’s my way of reflecting and celebrating. “10 Things I Learned” are some of my favorite posts to write. I love the process of looking back, and seeing the deeper lessons that I might otherwise miss.

In no particular order, here are 10 things I learned this month.

1. I love baking bread with wild yeast.

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For several months I’ve been maintaining a sourdough starter, and using it to make all sorts of bread. This is the method used before packaged yeast was created. The rhythm of feeding the starter (which I named “Nasty Woman”) with new flour and water to keep the yeast active has become a part of my daily routine. And now our kitchen is often filled with the scent of rising dough, freshly baked sourdough, and crusty baguettes.

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2. If you’re ready to do a deep dive into self-awareness, explore your Enneagram type.

The Enneagram is a tool that helps you identify your personality within a spectrum of 9 different personality types. I began learning about the Enneagram several years ago, and it has given me so much insight into who I am, what motivates me, and how to continue growing.

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I’ve read several books on the Enneagram, and recommend The Wisdom of the Enneagram by Don Riso and Russ Hudson, and The Road Back to You by Ian Cron and Susanne Stabile (they also have a podcast!). For those who are curious, I am a type 1 (the Reformer) with a 2 wing.

3. Spotify is amazing.

We just started using Spotify, and YOU GUYS, GAME CHANGER. But you all probably know this because I’m pretty late to the discovery. I love that I have access to so many digital albums and songs, without the hassle of having to actually own and store them. I thank Spotify for all the hours I get to listen to Hamilton on loop and create Disney playlists for my kids.

4. My favorite weekly ritual is our family’s “Golden Fork and Spoon Night.”

Once a week, one person in our family gets to use the special golden utensils at dinner. During that meal, the rest of the family shares all the things we appreciate and love about that one person. It is a way to celebrate and affirm each person, and create space for gratitude as a family.

5. I get excited about packing.

This makes sense given I am an Enneagram 1 as mentioned above. Creating lists and order are comforting. But now I love packing even more since discovering eBags.

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I received the eBags Weekender Convertible, an awesome carry-on travel backpack, as a Christmas present. Later I purchased the packing cubes and toiletry case. I’m a huge fan of the well-designed eBags products.

6. I am rich in friendship.

Several recent occasions reminded me of this. Steve and I took a trip to Los Angeles, where we had the pleasure of reconnecting with many friends from our 15+ years of living there. We’ve also hosted a few gatherings in our home in the last few weeks. These experiences were brief snapshots of the many lifelong friendships I’ve been given, and I am so grateful.

7. Parenting three kids makes my life a lot more fun.

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I love how much fun my kids add to my life. Because of them, my days involve more play, imagination, and humor.

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8. Lagunitas Brewing Company is churning out some of my current favorite beers.

Try their IPA, Undercover Investigation Shut Down, or Brown Sugga.’ Mmmm.

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9. Storytelling is a powerful way to increase empathy and compassion.

Have you watched a movie or read a story that invites you into a human experience other than your own? If you allow yourself to enter into the story without judgement, you begin to understand the perspective of other people. I watched a recent episode of This Is Us (so good!) that showed a major character experiencing an anxiety attack. It was heartbreaking, and deepened my compassion for people who deal with this level of anxiety.

Our world is filled with an ocean of human experience. Let’s all resist the temptation to remain in our own bubbles, and listen to stories of people who are different than us. Listen to the people with whom you cross paths. Read books from authors who have a different background than you. Watch films that shine light on topics that may make you feel uncomfortable. Perhaps you’ll grow.

10. If I could, I’d wear a flannel shirt and jogger pants all the livelong day.

Steve Jobs was known for wearing black turtleneck and jeans every day. Maybe my flannel shirt and jogger pants uniform will increase my visionary leadership and innovation. Or maybe it’ll decrease all my productivity altogether.